What I’ve Been Watching – August 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp

I loved the first Ant-Man film and still feel it’s one of the most well made superhero films of all time. From concept to execution, it is flawless in it’s expertly paced blend of characterisation, story, action and comedy. This sequel has big shoes to fill – no pun intended 😛

Ant-Man and the Wasp is almost as good. While it’s not quite as smooth as the first film, it does everything I hoped it would do. The chemistry between the characters is still enjoyable, including the side characters.

The action is still inventive.

The story focuses on a plot thread set up by the first film that I really hoped the writers would focus on.

Evangeline Lily is great as the newest superhero on the block, The Wasp. I’m really glad they included her in the title because she is every bit the equal of Ant-Man, if not more so.

This film really feels like it’s about her and Hank Pym, with Scott Lang/Ant-Man simply along for the ride. The film also continues very logically from the ending of Captain America: Civil War, where Scott is facing the repercussions of violating the Sokovia Accords.

I say the film isn’t as smooth as the original because there are some elements that just don’t work. A whole plot thread involving a ‘gangster character’ feels utterly pointless. You could remove it from the film entirely and it wouldn’t diminish it at all. A slice of dialogue from a federal agent is nothing more than an incredibly badly disguised explanation of the events leading up to film.

The final action sequence also undermines itself by cross-cutting between an important sequence involving Hank Pym and an action scene that just seems to be happening for the sake of having an epic climax. Neither of these problems plagued the first film.

Nevertheless, this is still a decent film and there is a lot of fun to be had here.

SPOILERS BELOW for Ant-Man and the Wasp AND Avengers: Infinity War.

After a jovial and light-hearted romp, the film ends with a mid-credits scene that is utterly chilling. Ant-Man briefly delves into the quantum realm in a controlled experiment, safely tethered to the real world by Hank Pym, Hope and Janet. However, while he is down there all communication suddenly goes dead.

We cut back to the surface to find that Hank, Hope and Janet have all turned to ash following Thanos’ use of the Infinity Gauntlet. Ant-Man is trapped in the quantum realm with no way out. That’s where the film cuts to black. A post-credits scene also reveals the outside world is fully aware something horrible has happened, with televisions automatically broadcasting an emergency signal to the remaining survivors of humanity… and a giant drumming ant who is blissfully unaware of the chaos.

Pretty much everyone I know assumed the stinger would show some of the characters turning to ash, spurring Ant-Man into action for the next Avengers film. But I didn’t anticipate all of them turning to ash and leaving Scott trapped in the quantum realm… a place that both films have demonstrated is somewhere you don’t want to be.

But here’s the best bit… Ant-Man could be the key to saving the universe!

In Infinity War, Dr Strange saw only one possible way to save the universe… by giving Thanos the Time Stone and thus enabling him to wipe out half the universe. If he hadn’t done that, then Hank, Hope and Janet would have safely pulled Ant-Man back to the real world. Thus, I can only assume that Ant-Man being in the quantum realm will somehow play a pivotal role in saving the universe.

How? I’ve no idea. But it’s going to be fun finding out!

The Greatest Showman

I finally watched this at the request of my wife (and various other recommendations). I’m not big on musicals, but a few have captured my heart in my lifetime. While this film isn’t one of them, I can’t deny the sheer feelgood power of it’s message.

Hugh Jackman once again demonstrates his extraordinary talent by effortlessly carrying the film as the title character. His powerful voice and acrobatic movement are a joy to watch.

I also found it compelling to watch his descent from a financially struggling good natured father to a wealthy business opportunist becoming estranged from his family.

The contemporary music adds a lot of energy to the film. The messages they carry of pride and defiance have a very Frozen-esque ring to them.

Sadly, the film feels quite rushed. The relentless pace pushes the audience through significant parts of Jackman’s life in quickfire montages. As a result I found it quite hard to empathise with him or his family as I simply wasn’t spending enough time with how they were feeling. Instead I was being told ‘this happened to them and then this happened to them.’

Nevertheless, if you can overlook the rushed storytelling you should find yourself in a happy feelgood film that’ll leave you feeling brighter than when you started watching.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

This solid follow-up to Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters sees the remnants of humanity’s military force searching for ways to defeat the legendary beast. I was pleasantly surprised by the first film and this proves to be an equally competent action film.

The new characters introduced provide an interesting new insight to the story, while conflicting ideologies among the existing soldiers bubble up to the surface.

The suspense builds quite nicely as the film employs tense build-ups to action sequences in a fashion similar to a Hollywood blockbuster.

The relationships between the characters deepen a little more, which injects a bit of drama into the final action scene.

And the action itself is as equally bombastic and epic as the first film, if not more so.

While not particularly memorable, City on the Edge of Battle is certainly worth your time if you enjoyed Planet of the Monsters.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie knock it out of the park! MI Fallout is a sensational showcase of real life stunts with a compelling story to match.

As much fun as the last two MI films were (Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation), my prevalent issue was that the films were more concerned with “wow” moments than delivering a dramatic story. It’s why I felt that MI3 has always been the best in the series. Fallout might just have it beat.

The film draws on previous films for it’s story in a way that almost feels Marvel-esque. The IMF team are as good as they’ve always been, with the banter between Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames a particular highlight.

Henry Cavill is also an excellent addition to the team, cementing my belief that he is utterly wasted as Superman and belongs in spy movies (see also The Man From UNCLE).

When the action comes, it is nail-bitingly good. McQuarrie’s direction really makes it clear that what we’re seeing on the screen is real instead of CGI. Tom Cruise is characteristically nuts in his lust for performing dangerous stunts.

A motorcycle chase in Paris had me clenching my stomach over how close he came to hitting other cars. It was exhilarating to see him speed through oncoming traffic at the Champs-Élysées.

A footchase in Central London also had me wanting to cheer out loud. There were numerous shots of Cruise and Cavill in spots I walk through on the way to work! I was gobsmacked. They were literally where I go almost every day… if not to get to the office then to go for a lunchtime walk to catch Pokemon XD

And of course… there’s the ankle breaking stunt you may have heard of. Yes, they kept it in the film. But what I didn’t realise is that it’s all done in a stunning one-take that beats Cruise’s skyscraper jump in MI3. It’s an incredible achievement and a testament to Cruise’s determination to always give his all, even if he gets hurt doing it.

The film also keeps circling back to morality amid all the action and chaos. It questions whether or not Ethan Hunt should let something bad happen in order to protect the greater good.

It’s a fantastic addition to the film in an age where far too many blockbusters seem to gloss over this issue (I’m looking at you Transformers and Fast & Furious).

I really don’t have enough good things to say about this movie. I haven’t even touched upon how well the score accompanies the epic moments in this film. There are also moments when the music or sound effects drop away completely to let you appreciate a dramatic moment unfolding on the screen. It truly is a masterclass in film-making.

If you appreciate seeing real life action, you owe it to yourself to see this film.

So that’s what I’ve been watching lately. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading, folks!

7 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Watching – August 2018

  1. Oh good, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Scott getting stuck in the Quantic Realm has the potential to be a blessing in disguise. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with that development.

    Also Fallout was incredible. In a decade that has had many excellent action films (e.g. John Wick, Mad Max), I can say it deserves to stand proudly alongside them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You finally watched The Greatest Showman!🙂 The first time I saw it (on a plane), I liked but didn’t love it. Once I got home I got listening to the soundtrack then I enjoyed the film a lot more when I rewatched it. Did you notice the same actress in TGS and Mission Impossible?🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

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